The rain lashed down against the pavement as Waverly Earp made her way towards the precinct. She had been a police officer for almost four years, and a detective within the Narcotics department for nearly eighteen months. As soon as she had graduated with a first in criminal justice, Waverly knew she was destined to wear the badge. Narcotics had been something she had always been interested in-wanting to get drugs off the streets and try and help people get clean. She was tough as nails on dealers, but addicts were a different matter. Waverly had an intrinsic need to help people, and she tried to be sympathetic when it came to getting users the help they needed.
She ran up the steps and into the building she had worked at for over a year. She had begun her career at a precinct across town, but when a space on the narcotics team came up, she had been approached by the departments most respected officer, Xavier Dolls, and found it too good an opportunity to miss.
Xavier and her had an excellent working relationship. There was a mutual respect there, but also, and perhaps more importantly, there was a level of trust Waverly had only experienced with one other person-her sister Wynonna-who was back in their home town of Purgatory three hours out of the city.
She opened the door to their department and found her friend and colleague hunched over his desk, frowning at something on the computer screen in front of him. She shook the water from her coat and hung it on the rack in the far corner, smiling at Xavier’s complete lack of social awareness as he ignored her entrance
“I got your message… this better be good…” Waverly said by way of a greeting. She had been about to order her food whilst on a date with a guy she had been trying to arrange to see for over a month. He was a district attorney and they had met on a case she had worked a couple of months back. As soon as her bit was over, she had received a call from Joshua asking her to dinner. They had spent the last month trying to get a night where both of them were available, and tonight was that night. Or at least it was until Xavier Dolls called her in for an emergency meeting.
He finally looked up from the screen and gave her an apologetic look, realising tonight was the night of her date
“Sorry… this couldn’t wait…” he said, almost sheepishly “You sing right?”
Of all the things she thought her partner was going to say, that was not one of them
“Kind of…” Waverly replied, trying not to sound confused and failing miserably
“We may have an opening for an undercover operation at Willow… but it’s as a singer…”
“Xavier, everything you just said needs explaining… start from the top…”
Dolls had a habit of not always sharing what was in his head, and Waverly had, at first, found this frustrating, but now just found it one of his many idiosyncrasies she had grown quite fond of
“I have an informant within Del Rey’s gang, he plays piano at one of his clubs-and one of their singers just quit… its an ideal opportunity to get someone in there and see if we can figure out where their shipments are coming from and where they stash their goods” Dolls explained. Waverly sighed and sat down, realising she was in for the night
“Hang on…” Waverly said through a sigh as she reached for her phone and sent a text to Joshua explaining she was going to have to stay at work longer than she had anticipated and promising to call him tomorrow. She then looked at the man in front of her and nodded for him to continue
“Doc Holliday” Xavier said as he pinned a photograph of an older guy with a huge bushy moustache and a black Stetson hat “Been running with the Bandito’s for a little over five years. He was arrested last year and was threatened with jail time unless he co-operated with us… he’s been my informer for nine months, and so far, everything he’s given us has come through… in short-he wants out, and knows the only way he gets that, is to help us break this case…”
“So where do I come in?”
“Willow-one of Del Rey’s seemingly legitimate businesses… it used to be a pretty seedy strip joint called Pussy Willows, but the neighbourhood is on the up and since management of the club was passed over to one of his key gang members-Nicole Haught-she changed the name and turned it into more of a jazz bar-but the killer is, its members only” Dolls paused to put surveillance photo’s up of a redheaded woman dressed in a sharp suit deep in conversation with Bobo Del Rey-the infamous leader of The Bandito’s-a gang responsible for the distribution of various narcotics onto the streets spanning close to a decade
Waverly nodded her head in understanding “So you want me to go in and sing at this bar to try and get intel on their suppliers?”
“Essentially yes… we can’t get in there easily otherwise-Haught seems to be running a clean business-but she’s clearly one of Del Rey’s people and our intel points us to this place as a ‘too good to be true’ business… According to Holliday, Del Rey appears there at least twice a week, listens to the first set then disappears into the back with Haught for the rest of the night-what we need is for you to join the band and become a regular face… Del Rey is a sucker for a brunette so the chances are, you’ll draw some attention-it goes without saying you do not get close to him-Haught is our person of interest here-Holliday believes if we crack her-we’ll crack the whole gang”
“Are her and Del Rey together?” Waverly asked
“Negative-Haught is gay and as far as we can tell, she’s single-she doesn’t let anyone get close to her, so we need you to just watch and report back-we need some eyes in there to try and decipher what the hell Del Rey is up to... word is he’s planning to expand-we need to figure out what that means…’ Dolls explained as he handed Waverly a file on the elusive redhead
“So… how do we do this?” The brunette asked
“Holliday is holding auditions tomorrow afternoon-you will be seen to audition and he will pick you to join him for a set that night-how’s your jazz knowledge?”
“I know some classics but nothing obscure… I’m guessing that’s not a problem?”
“Here’s a set list… learn these over the next eighteen hours and you should be fine-we don’t want Haught to see through you-she’s notorious for getting the measure of people quickly-its one of the things Del Rey trusts most about her, so be aware that she watches everyone and everything-and she does it silently”
Waverly took the list and glanced down at the songs. She recognised all of them and knew at least four already by heart and she felt her apprehension momentarily lift
“The likelihood is you will be searched when you go in-we will sew a microphone into your bra which will be discreet enough to get past that and Holliday will be your back up-any problems, you get out immediately” Dolls instructs
Waverly had been undercover once before, which had got three dealers off the streets successfully-but that was in a different city and with a different unit-so she could understand the trepidation in her bosses voice
“I’ll be fine-get in, watch, listen, learn and don’t get caught…I got this Dolls” Waverly said confidently. She watched her boss nod his head and then hand her an ipod and some sheet music
“Back here tomorrow morning to get kitted out with a new wardrobe ”
“What’s wrong with my clothes?” Waverly asked with a raised eyebrow
“You look like a cop-we need to make you look like a singer whose okay with working in less than salubrious clubs”
“I thought you said it was legit?”
“It appears legit-but something is going on, and I think Haught is the key to finding out what”
As instructed, Waverly arrived at work the next day with 15 songs in her head and the file on all things Nicole Haught read and memorised. She was handed some clothes to change in to, and disappeared into the locker room-going in a cop and coming out dressed in a pair of very tight denim jeans, a tight black vest with a voluminous rolling stones t-shirt over the top of it and a vintage leather jacket. She looked cool-something Waverly herself would admit she was not. Adding to this the three different lengths of necklaces, some silver bracelets and some black leather boots and she barely recognised herself.
She took her sheet music, her large leather bag and the ipod Dolls had loaded her ‘set’ onto, left the station and headed to the subway-deciding not to risk the club being watched by the gangs own surveillance. She found the club easily enough and was unsurprised when she pushed open the doors and walked in to the sound of a woman singing a terrible version of ‘First time ever I saw your face’. Waverly walked up to the doorman sitting behind a booth and gave her name-deciding to take her aunt’s maiden name of Gibson as her own for the duration of the assignment.
When she had been in grad school, they had explained that it was easier to try and keep some semblance of truth in the web of deceit an undercover officer wove. She had been brought up by her aunt and uncle, but had kept her fathers name Earp for a surname. She was raised in the McCready house, but a little research by their tech guy Jeremy, Waverly and Dolls discovered there was no link to Earp and Gibson-her aunt’s maiden name-so it was safe to use it as her cover name-making it infinitely easier for Waverly to remember.
The piano finished and after some murmuring a blonde woman appeared from behind the curtain and left the building-Waverly assuming she had been the voice she could hear. A moment later, the man with the Stetson and the moustache appeared and looked at the clipboard handed to him by the doorman
“Waverly Gibson… that you?” The man asked with a surprisingly soft voice
“Certainly is… You the guy who posted the ad?”
“That I am… Doc Holliday… come on through” he replied with neither a smile nor a glance in her direction. She smiled at the doorman and followed Doc through to a plush looking bar. There were no windows, just velvet curtains running around the entire place. Small tables were dotted in front and to the side of a stage and booths lined the edges of the walls. A huge glass bar ran along the left of the seating and beyond that were what Waverly could only assume were offices and the backstage area.
Doc sat at the piano on the right of the stage and reached out for the sheet music-Waverly deciding to audition with ‘My baby just cares for me’ by Nina Simone. The chords started and Waverly nodded along slightly to the beat as she waited for the intro to finish. She sang confidently into the mic-having been in a band when she was at college, she didn’t get fazed by hearing her voice coming out of the speakers or the idea of people watching her. She loved to sing-and had a decent voice-it wasn’t professional standard, but judging by the place she was in, and the voice she’d heard before her, that didn’t seem to be much of a problem. The song finished and Doc turned to look at Waverly for what felt like the first time
“When can you start?” he asked, sounding almost disinterested
“Whenever you want” Waverly replied with a shrug.
He nodded his head and took a cigarette out of a packet on top of the piano “Start tonight and see what the boss thinks”
“You not the boss?” Waverly asked as she picked up her bag.
“Me… no ma’am, I am merely the piano player” Doc replied with the slightest hint of a smile
She was making her way back towards the exit when Nicole Haught strode into the club flanked by a couple of men. She stopped when she saw Waverly, and looked at the woman in front of her with surprise
“Can I help you?” Nicole asked, her voice steady and confidence radiating off her
“I don’t think so-I’ve just auditioned for Doc Holliday” Waverly replied with a smile-although she had seen a photo of the woman in front of her-it did not do the redhead justice. Her skin was flawless, her hair made you want to reach out and run your fingers through it and her brown eyes were so dark you could be forgiven for getting lost in them
The redhead nodded and smiled, revealing the smallest hint of dimples in her cheeks “How did it go?”
“Okay I think-though its up to the boss, so I guess we’ll see how I do tonight” Waverly said nonchalantly
“Tonight huh? I’ll look forward to it” Nicole replied with a smirk so small it could have been missed if Waverly hadn’t been paying attention. The brunette smiled slightly at the taller woman and then watched as the redhead turned to the two men with her and led them into the bar-unsure why she felt quite so uneasy and yet so safe around the woman walking away from her
The bar was busy when Waverly stepped out to join Doc and the other musicians on stage. She glanced across the room and spotted Bobo Del Rey immediately in his fur coat and his blonde tipped mohawk. Considering most drug dealers tried to remain anonymous, this guy demanded focus. He was flanked either side by Nicole and another woman that Waverly could only assume was a girlfriend judging by the way Bobo’s hand was resting on her thigh
Doc started to play the opening chords of ‘Girl from Ipanema’ and a guy called Ollie picked up the bass line. There was another man, James, on the drums and a saxophonist called Rosita who started a light accompaniment. Waverly had met the bad a couple of hours beforehand when they had played through the set list and done a quick sound check. Doc was the band leader, and he would say over the music which solo they were going for before the musical break began so Waverly just had to watch the pianist and follow his lead. She stumbled a couple of times over a few notes, but all in all, they got through the set relatively unscathed. The group at the back in the booth continued chatting through-out, and as Doc informed the smattering of audience they were taking a break, they received a lack lustre applause across the bar.
Waverly wasn’t used to such a reception. When she had been at college, their band had quite a following and she had revelled in the whooping and cheering they received more than she realised
“It pick’s up from Thursdays, the first couple of nights of the week are always like this” Rosita said from behind her.
Waverly turned to the woman and smiled warmly “They certainly make you work for it… can I get a drink from the bar? Or is that frowned upon?”
“Sure you can… We have an open tab” Rosita replied
“Wow… that’s… dangerous” Waverly laughed. Rosita nodded her agreement and smiled along with the smaller woman.
“We didn’t always have it, but when Bobo gave management over to Nicole, she set it up-said it was the least they could do for us having to play to a less than enthusiastic crowd” Rosita explained as the two women came out from the dressing room behind the stage and into the bar.
“Sorry, I don’t know who the hell you’re talking about-I’ve literally met you guys and Ben the doorman” Waverly lied seamlessly
“Oh right… so Nicole is the manager-she’s great-but keeps herself to herself mainly-she’s sitting in the booth over there” Rosita began as she pointed across the bar towards the group still deep in conversation “and the guy she’s talking to-that’s Bobo. He owns this place and a couple of other clubs a bit further out of town-he’s recently bought a new club in the centre of the city, so he gave this place to Nicole to manage about eight months ago-used to be a strip joint, but she turned it into this”
“Well… I’m glad it’s not a strip joint-not sure how our set would go down there…” Waverly joked. Rosita laughed along with her and nodded her head
“You’re funny…” The musician said “I like you”
“Well hopefully the boss likes me enough to stay on-although, saying that, I’m not sure which one Doc meant”
“Oh definitely Nicole… she’s the one that runs things here… isn’t that right boss?” Rosita said, directing the last part to someone who had come up behind Waverly
“What’s that?” A strong yet effeminate voice replied
“Waverly was just saying its up to the boss whether she stays or goes… I was telling her that’s your call…” Rosita informed with an air of authority
“Rosie… Why don’t you go over and see Bobo… he’s been asking after you…” Nicole replied-it was a thinly veiled command, and one that was obeyed immediately. Waverly turned in her seat to look at the redhead, unsure of what she was going to get-usually she could read people easily-but there was something about Nicole Haught that eluded her
“I hope the depleted crowd hasn’t put you off us?” Nicole asked softly “I’d hate for you to take this first impression as a sign of what its actually like here regularly”
“Rosita was saying it used to be a strip joint… I’m just relieved I don’t have to take my clothes off” Waverly said drily. Nicole looked her in the eye and showed a hint of a smile
“Yeah… I took over management and realised I would be better getting people into a jazz bar rather than a strip joint”
“You surprise me” Waverly replied with a smile
“I’m not built for running strip joints… goes against my feminist tendencies”
“Well I’m not sure its anti-feminist to run a strip club-or to work in one-as long as its what you WANT to do, rather than what you HAVE to do…”
“You think so? I’m surprised by that…” Nicole said
“I’m not sure… I just had you pegged as someone who would disapprove”
“You’ve met me for thirty seconds”
“But I’ve watched you for longer… up there… you bring an innocence to the stage when you perform-I guess I’ve been taken in by you” Nicole replied
“Looks can be deceiving…” Waverly retorted. She could feel herself leaning forward, wanting to get closer to the woman leaning against the bar looking at her like she was the only person in the room
“I don’t think I got your name…”
“Well Waverly Gibson… I hope you can bring yourself to return to my little club…
“If you’ll have me…” The brunette said, unsure why she was flirting, but seemingly unable to stop herself. Nicole Haught stared at her for a moment before standing up straight and smiling down at the her
“Please take advantage of the bar-it’s the least I can do for the singer”
Waverly knew that was an indication to the end of their conversation, and despite her better judgement-she found herself disappointed. She thanked the redhead and watched her walk back to the large group of people at the back of the club and away from Waverly for the rest of the night